Monday, 10 September 2012

Thank you, Makaton

Learning to communicate is one of the fundamental life skills and we start learning from the day we are born.  It's a skill that a lot of us take for granted but have you ever thought about what it would be like not to be able to ask, tell, explain, name objects, express emotion, read, or write?  I already know, at 21 months old that Ella will get very frustrated if she can't make herself understood.  Or I become frustrated that I can't communicate with her - not because she won't understand me but because sometimes I don't know how to....

And this is where Makaton sign language has been an invaluable tool that we (as well as grandparents, friends & family) can use to communicate better with her - and of course,  her with us. 

Makaton uses signs and symbols to aid communication.  The signs are mostly intuitive and involve an action rather than a static sign.  The word that you are signing is always spoken alongside the sign, unlike sign language.  It is known that babies understand verbal language and words long before they can speak themselves.  Signing can therefore be used to bridge the gap between understanding and talking.  And using the sign doesn't stop children from speaking or delay their speech. Once they can verbalise the word, the sign drops off as they no longer need it.  Makaton is also used by older children and adults with many differing language needs or disabilities.  A lot of signs you see in public buildings are makaton symbols and almost everyone has heard of Mr Tumble and his  infamous spotty bag!... 

As the alter ego of Justin Fletcher, he has really raised the profile of makaton signing in his 'Something Special' series and made it more accessible to parents and children.  He has also given children with disabilities a chance to be included and seen on TV which is another big plus to the programme.  Both myself and my mum have 'Something Special' on series link and have both found watching it really useful - learning signs in context rather than out of a book means they are much more memorable (and I do have a soft spot for Mr Tumble too...!)

So, to the reason for this post...After they saw a previous post I wrote about Makaton via Twitter, the Makaton Charity asked me to consider writing a blog for their website.  It didn't take me long to agree to do it, I have been a regular visitor to their website over the last few months.  They have a wealth of information, resources to buy or download and national makaton training programmes.  

I remember reading the existing blogs from other families - how and why they use makaton on a day to day basis.  They were reassuring to me at a time when we were signing away to Ella and getting blank or amused looks back... I wondered if she would ever start signing but from reading other stories I knew Ella would get there in her own time.  And she has come so far in such a short time, with new signs appearing every week.

You can read our story following the link below. If I am able to reassure another parent just like me at the beginning of their Makaton journey then I will be more than happy...

Another fellow blogger and mum to Natty (who also has DS) has also recently written a post about Makaton which is a lovely, informative read and can be found here:

Do We Really Need Makaton?

Dad of Eleanor also writes about Makaton and its value for children with DS, you can read it Here

Thank you for reading xx

1 comment:

  1. Makaton is fabulous it really helped my son when he had difficulties.


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